Of all the difficulties facing musicians
who live in New York, losing rehearsal time to the search for
a parking space is among the toughest to swallow - at least for
cellist Edward Arron.
"I usually schedule my rehearsals around alternate-side parking," Arron, who plays Bargemusic at Fulton Landing this weekend, said with a laugh as - you guessed it - he sat in his vehicle on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, waiting for a spot to open up after a recent rehearsal.
The 27-year-old seems to be in this situation more often these days, since he has a busy musicmaking career. On May 8 and May 9, Arron will perform with pianist Bernard Rose. The program of music that spans more than 200 years was chosen by Arron himself.
"It’s music from the cello repertoire that I find special to hear and play," Arron explains. "My favorite cello piece is the Schubert ’Arpeggione’ Sonata, and I built the recital around that. It’s so lyrical, beautiful and soulful, I grew up loving that piece."
Understandably, Arron wanted to perform music that highlights the range of the cello rather than the piano.
"This program is a cello-difficult and a piano-lite program in a way," he says. "It’s usually the opposite, because if you take things like the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas, they have many more notes for the piano than for the cello. So we’re turning the tables, since the piano is such a backbone in this repertoire."
When Arron says "cello-difficult," he means it. In addition to Schubert’s sonata, which closes the program, the first half consists of two masterful works by 18th-century composer Luigi Boccherini and late-20th-century master Gyorgy Ligeti; a folk-inflected work by Robert Schumann precedes the Schubert finale.
"I decided to start with this really interesting Boccherini sonata," Arron says. "He was a great virtuoso, and his music reflects that - it’s difficult but joyful, with beautiful textures and a special energy.
"I thought I would continue this virtuoso theme and program the Ligeti solo sonata, which is as difficult as anything else technically. It has a lot of Hungarian folk elements in it, which is also why I put the Schumann piece (’Five Pieces in Folk Style’) on the program, because he picks up on folk elements similar to Ligeti over a hundred years earlier."
Ligeti’s solo sonata is an imposing edifice for any serious cellist, even if it clocks in at only 10 minutes.
"It’s my first time performing this piece, which will make it a nerve-wracking experience," says Arron. "I fell in love with it the first time I heard it, but I never had the guts to play it before now.
"You have to discipline yourself when you do a solo piece, since you don’t have any rehearsals scheduled with someone else," he says. "You know you should be practicing it whenever you have a moment at home. I do clinical work on it, go really slowly and make mental connections of where my fingers and bow should be. And I also like to whip through it sometimes just to get a feel for it. When I perform it, I hope these two extremes come together, along with the adrenaline, the nerves, the excitement and atmosphere."
The Ligeti sonata is the only solo work on the program.
"He’s one of my best friends," Arron says about Rose, his piano-playing partner. "We’ve known each other about 10 years, and we live three blocks from each other, so we get together on an almost daily basis to make music or talk about music. It’s nice to have someone that close onstage with me while playing such difficult music."
Arron, who grew up in Cincinnati and attended Juilliard, comes from a musical family: his father is a violist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and his late mother, Judith, was credited with turning around Carnegie Hall’s fortunes during the 1990s when she served as its executive director.
"Growing up I was exposed to extraordinary musicmaking, at home and at Carnegie Hall," the cellist explains.
Although his busy career includes performing on classical radio station WQXR’s "On Air" program and an upcoming U.S. tour, Arron insists that there’s no place like Bargemusic.
"It’s such an incredible place to play and listen to music," he says. "It’s completely unique, just floating on the water, listing with the waves. It’s amazing that for 25 years [Bargemusic Founder and President] Olga Bloom has poured blood, sweat and tears to give us an opportunity to play music the way we want to make it.
"There’s something so simple about it - just a stage and chairs - then you add in the beauty of the great Manhattan skyline and the music that we get to play. It’s so special."
Cellist Edward Arron and pianist Bernard Rose will perform works by Boccherini, Ligeti, Schumann and Schubert on May 8, at 7:30 pm, and May 9, at 2 pm, at Bargemusic (Fulton Ferry Landing at the end of Old Fulton Street on the East River). Tickets are $35, $20 for full-time students. For more information, call (718) 624-2083 or visit www.bargemusic.org.